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• HART, Samuel Hopgood. The Late Mr. Edward Maitland. This article was published in Light, 16th October 1897.
Information: [The information below was sent by Mr. Brian McAllister, who kindly photocopied and sent this text to the Anna Kingsford Site.]
“This obituary article (The Late Mr. Edward Maitland) by Samuel Hopgood Hart was photocopied from Mr. Hart’s own copy in his Newspaper Cuttings Book. As you see Mr. Hart has written in the name of the publication and the date of issue in his own hand. The article was published in Light, 16th October 1897.”
THE LATE MR. EDWARD MAITLAND
BY SAMUEL HOPGOOD HART
(A Member of the Esoteric Christian Union)
All true students of Holy Scripture, all true students of the mysteries, all true students of the divine, all true Spiritualists, will grieve to hear of the death of Mr. Edward Maitland. Above all, Mr. Maitland – the author of The Keys of the Creeds, The Bible’s Own Account of Itself, and The New Gospel of Interpretation – was a mystic, an interpreter of the mysteries, a student and teacher of the divine, a prophet, and, in the highest sense, a Spiritualist. The Esoteric Christian Union in particular (founded by Mr. Maitland in November, 1891) has suffered an irreparable loss. Mr. Maitland’s complete withdrawal took place on October 2nd, at the end of his seventy-third year. I say ‘complete withdrawal’ advisedly, because the withdrawal in his case was very slow. It began to take place some considerable time before October 2nd. As long ago as 1894 Mr. Maitland’s health was indifferent. But during last year his mental and physical decline was remarkably rapid. I saw him last on December 23rd, 1896, at ‘The Warders,’ Tonbridge, Kent, the home of his friends, Colonel and Mrs. Currie, with whom he was then staying, and where he had retreated some weeks before to spend what he must have known would be the remaining days of his life. Since the spring of 1888 Mr. Maitland had lived alone in chambers at 1, Thurloe Square Studios, London. As far back as 1877 complete renunciation of his family, and of the world, had been required of him. He did well to go to ‘The Warders’ to die. At Colonel and Mrs. Currie’s hands, and in the atmosphere of their love and sympathy, he received every attention and care that it is possible for man to give to his fellow. I have referred to the slow withdrawal of the soul in his case. Even at the time of my said visit I was satisfied that the true self – the spiritual soul – the anima divina – was almost, if not quite, withdrawn from the physical body, and I was told that Mr. Maitland had been in this condition for some time past. Conversation was almost impossible. Mr. Maitland could only speak to me with great difficulty, and he was otherwise physically helpless. I was not quite sure that he even knew me. I tried to get him to take some food, but to no purpose. He refused to eat, saying, ‘It’s no use feeding a dead man’ – so certainly did something within him think it necessary to make us then present know what his real condition was. He was dead to all intents and purposes. True, the anima bruta, and the physical vitality, remained; but his spiritual insight and his intelligence had gone. Psyche had fled. The true self which we knew and loved had ceased to animate mind and body. Such were the last days of this most lovable of men – a man whose character was love, and whose love was all-embracing; a truly divine soul. Edward Maitland has left a blessed memory behind him.
The chief facts connected with Mr. Maitland’s life are to be found in his latest work, ‘The Life of Anna Kingsford,’ published as recently as January, 1896. This work was of necessity, and fortunately for us, to a large extent autobiographical. Mr. Maitland tells us that in early life he graduated at Cambridge with the idea of taking orders, but owing to his opposition to the orthodoxies, particularly to the doctrines known as ‘the vicarious atonement’ and ‘the total depravity of man,’ he found himself unable to go into the Church with a clear conscience, so he abandoned the idea. After leaving Cambridge, where he took his degree, he went first to California and afterwards to Australia, intentionally for a short time. But he was away for nearly ten years. While in Australia, in 1855 or 1856, he married; but his wife died there in the following year and left him with his only child – a son – who is living. Mr. Maitland never married again. In 1857 he returned to England and devoted himself to reading and writing and looking after his mother (who lived until 1874), for whom he had very great affection. He does not appear to have derived much, if any, learning from books or from outside sources. His own writings – he tells us – were most helpful to him. He could not find in books, or things outside himself, what he was in search of, so he had only to look within. And it was within that he found what he wanted. Thus he taught that if man would know God he must first know himself; that to attain the highest man must seek it, and find it, in himself; that the phenomenal world cannot disclose its own secret. But it is interesting to know that he read with advantage Emerson’s Essays, Bailey’s Festus, Carlyle’s Hero Worship, and Tucker’s Light of Nature. Later in life he studied various religious systems, including the ancient religions, the writings of the Fathers, and Hermetic and occult works. During this period Mr. Maitland wrote some notable books: The Pilgrim and the Shrine, Higher Law, and By-and-By. These tales were autobiographical. He also wrote later (in 1877) The Soul and How it Found Me. He was also the writer of England and Islam, and numerous pamphlets.
It was a notice of By-and-By, which appeared in The Examiner in 1873 that attracted the late Mrs. Kingsford’s attention and led to correspondence between Mr. Maitland and Mrs. Kingsford. In January, 1874, Mr. Maitland met Mrs. Kingsford in London for the first time. This was the turning point in his, as well as in her, life. In the following month he visited her at her home at the Shropshire parsonage, where she lived with her husband, who was a clergyman in the Church of England. Mr. Maitland and Mrs. Kingsford had both been conscious of a mission from early youth, though they were not clear as to what their respective missions were. When they met they at once recognised their joint mission – a mission of interpretation and redemption; a mission that was to destroy materialism both in science and in religion; a mission that was to restore the true spiritualism and theosophy underlying all religion; a mission that was to destroy cruelty and restore in its place mercy and justice – for they believed that mercy was the very basis of the Christ nature. A truly Catholic mission. From this time to the time of Mrs. Kingsford’s death in 1888, Mr. Maitland and Mrs. Kingsford worked continuously and enthusiastically together in fulfilment of their now recognised joint mission.
On becoming acquainted with Mrs. Kingsford, Mr. Maitland for the first time in his life learnt what vivisection meant. His attitude against scientific materialism, which hitherto had been only intellectual, now became also moral. He at once joined his colleague in a determined effort, which he never afterwards relaxed, to suppress, and, if possible, absolutely extinguish this iniquity from our land. In 1876 he wrote in the Examiner a remarkably powerful letter against vivisection, which I believe was afterwards published as a pamphlet and had a wide circulation. Anti-vivisectionists have lost one of their strongest and best leaders. But this was not all. The vegetarians have suffered as great a loss as the anti-vivisectionists. Mr. Maitland felt that many of the arguments used against vivisection applied equally well against flesh-eating. Consequently he became a ‘pure liver.’ He become a vegetarian in 1874, and remained one to the end, and he never ceased to advocate the cause of the vegetarians.
Great as was Mr. Maitland’s work for humanity, he is best known to the readers of this paper as a Mystic. He was the joint writer with Mrs. Kingsford of that most remarkable book, The Perfect Way, or the Finding of Christ. He also edited Mrs. Kingsford’s ‘Illuminations’ in a book called Clothed with the Sun. These two books are so well known to Spiritualists that any detailed account of them here would be superfluous. Suffice it to say that they have been recognised by high authorities in all parts of the world, and irrespective of creed, as containing the true esoteric teaching underlying not only Christianity but also all the other great religions. They indeed contain the Catholic doctrine. It is not impossible that some day they may form the point of union for all the great and true religions of the world, and particularly for the Buddhist and the Christian religions. It would hardly be correct to say that Mr. Maitland and Mrs. Kingsford were (in the ordinary sense) the authors of these two books. They never claimed to be such. The Perfect Way is founded on, and incorporates, the teachings contained in the ‘Illuminations,’ and these, as their name implies, are writings written under illumination – which has been defined as ‘the light of wisdom whereby a man perceiveth heavenly secrets. Which light is the Spirit of God within the man showing unto him the things of God.’ The Perfect Way and Clothed with the Sun must, I believe, be classed with the most spiritual, the most divine, the most true books that have ever been given to the world. These two books alone should make Mr. Maitland’s and Mrs. Kingsford’s names immortal. Personally, I cannot conceive of a proper understanding of Holy Scripture, or of religion – which is the science of interpretation – without a knowledge of the contents of these books. They contain the gnosis which is the key of the mysteries – and all Holy Scripture, all religion, is mystical. They contain that wisdom which is more precious than gold, and which gold cannot buy. They instruct us concerning the divine life – the life that Mr. Maitland had ever before him in all that he said, and wrote, and did, for Mr. Maitland lived the divine life, and thus it was that he carne to know of the divine doctrine. I do not say that what these books contain cannot be found elsewhere, but, if it can, I am not aware of it. I know of no writings outside Holy Scripture approaching these writings or comparable to them. They have been very largely plagiarised.
Mr. Maitland’s power to receive and interpret spiritual truth – which power constitutes the mystic – was marvellous, albeit he was always careful to explain that what he taught he knew, not from without but from within, and that his knowledge was derived from and founded on his, (i.e., his soul’s) experience, an experience extending over many lives. In 1876 Mr. Maitland’s mind became clear to an extraordinary degree. In that year he acquired a new sense. He came into open relations with the spiritual world – what he also called ‘the celestial world,’ ‘the Church invisible.’ He became spiritually sensitive in touch, hearing, and vision. At times he wrote under high control. He was able to see the spiritual condition of people. He tells us that on one occasion he saw the soul of a tree. He also tells us that, in a state of trance or ecstasy, he was able recall the memory of some of his past lives. He was told, through a sensitive, that his former lives had been many, and that he had lived in trees and in animals, and that he had been a prince. He believed that he had been the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He remembered a life lived in ancient Egypt and Thebes, where he had been initiated in the mysteries. He remembered a life lived in Cromwell’s time. The most remarkable and interesting, however, of all his recollections and memories of his past incarnations was his memory of Jesus. He recalled this memory in the character of St. John. At the close of his life he was positively assured, by an authority that he could not question, that he had been ‘the beloved disciple.’ He was also given to understand that St. John was a re-incarnation of the prophet Daniel.
Those who would know more of Mr. Maitland and his work; those who would know how and why he was opposed to the evangelical training and teaching of his early days; and what his attitude was, and has ever been, towards the materialism in the science and in the religion of his day; and what he considered the requisites of a true and spiritual religion to be; and how he recognised the truth of the Divine ‘Unity,’ ‘Duality,’ and ‘Trinity,’ and of the higher Pantheism, and the universality of consciousness, and of the substantial identity of God and man; and those who would know how (like St. John) he had the vision of ‘the Great White Throne,’ and saw Him who sat thereon; and those who would know how he learned and taught of the gods (or Archangels) and their orders; and, finally, what he had to say of Mrs. Kingsford, and how he communed with her after her death – must read his Life of Anna Kingsford. I know he regarded this work as the crowning work of his life. He wrote of it, to me, as his ‘Magnum opus.’ And a great work it is. When it was first published it was adversely noticed by some of the Sadducee Press. The Daily Chronicle, in particular, contained an article upon it, which must have been written by someone who not only did not appreciate it, but who was absolutely wanting in the faculty to even understand it. Mr. Maitland wrote to me concerning this article, that it ‘was [not] a review at all, but a falsification and perversion’ and that ‘it was also a blasphemy, since to assail a book containing a divine revelation with ribaldry and vulgar invective is to blaspheme.’ I mention this to show what Mr. Maitland thought of this, his last work.
And now Mr. Maitland, our dear friend, has gone to the other side to make one bright and glorious star with Mrs. Kingsford. He told me that their work here was not finished, and that they would be incarnate and associated together in this world again at some future time for the purpose of continuing their work. Until then, is it too much to hope that their combined influence may reach us in the grave of the lower consciousness? Blessed, blessed indeed, is the soul whom the just commemorate before God. Thus shall it be with the Soul of our dear friend Edward Maitland, who was of those who ‘scale height after height, and pierce mists, veil by veil, heartened with each discovery,’ and whose path has been as the shining light shining more and more unto the Perfect Day, and whose memory shall for ever be blessed.